Kenya – Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara

Apologies for the radio silence over the last month.  Life has got in the way of my blog a little bit, so I’m trying to make up for it now!  I’ve been on holiday – belated honeymoon, which I think is a valid enough excuse.  What an experience.  We had the most fantastically amazingly awesome time.  Safari for five days and then five days in Zanzibar.  Supposedly a once in a lifetime trip, but we loved it so much we definitely will have to go back again in the future.

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So this post is not about food, it’s about my holiday.  I will definitely be cooking something from both Zanzibar and Kenya, but have yet to decide what, so in the meantime, I thought I’d write about my experience.  We only got back two weeks ago, but it already feels like ages, so it’s lovely to relive it whilst writing about it.

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I don’t really know where to start.  It’s actually hard to sum up a holiday that had so much packed into it, and it is even harder to describe the place itself without using all of the usual (and predictable) words that I could use to say how wonderful it was.  I did write a journal while we were there and reading it back, it’s full of the words ‘incredible’, ‘amazing’, ‘surreal’, ‘fantastic’, ‘beautiful’, ‘stunning’, I could go on.

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We arrived in Nairobi in the early hours of a Monday morning, and after a long drive we were thrown straight into the safari experience, on Lake Naivasha where we went on a 1 hour ‘water safari’.  So from being in rainy England the night before, we were sitting in a little boat (still in our travelling clothes – jeans, trainers, no sun cream, no hats or sunglasses, no mozzie repellent) in this beautiful and yet eerie lake.  All the trees in the lake were skeletons – due to climate change the water had risen and killed them all, so it was a bit like a tree ghost town.  However, there was an abundance of wildlife including eagles, loads of pelicans, storks, and to top it all off HIPPOS!!  Can you believe it?  We’d only been in the country a few hours and were already faced with our first hippos only a few feet away from our little boat.  After the excitement, we carried on our journey till we reached our destination for the next few days – Lake Nakuru National Park.  We arrived in time for lunch, had a short rest and then headed out on our first game drive that afternoon.  It had already been a long day, but we weren’t tired at all – it was too exciting.

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Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru was a fascinating place.  We were privileged enough to see a leopard close up – it walked right in front of our vehicle.  We were also completely on our own.  It’s quite funny on safari because you have the images of being completely isolated – just you and the animals – but in reality there are lots of other people doing exactly what you’re doing, which means there are lots of other vehicles with other people as excited as you to see certain animals and clammering for the best view.  On this occasion, everyone else had given up because the leopard had been chilling out on a branch in a tree, so they’d all moved on to find something else.  Our guide decided to stay a bit longer and lo and behold, the leopard jumped down from the tree and headed straight towards us, completely non-plussed about the car.  It was one of the highlights of the trip as it’s really rare to see them so close, if at all.  And that was on our first afternoon in Kenya!

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I won’t describe every day in detail, although it’s very difficult to write about a whole safari experience in one post, particularly as we spent time in the Masai Mara as well, so I’m only going to scratch the surface.  We stayed in a camp called Flamingo Hill in Lake Nakuru as the reserve used to be famous for having the highest population of flamingos in Kenya.  Numbers are very sparse now, and apparently that’s also due to climate change as the water in the Lake has risen meaning that the algae the flamingos eat isn’t so abundant, as the water is deeper.  A large number have moved elsewhere to find better food sources, but we were still lucky to see a few.

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The Masai Mara

What can I say about the Masai Mara?  It was one of the only places I’ve ever been where you look in all directions and all you can see is a wide expanse of flat land.  It was incredible.  You could see for miles. We saw every animal and bird possible as well – elephants, lions, cheetahs, hippos, wildebeests, impala, gazelles, Topi (antelopes), mongoose, zebra, giraffe, pelicans, ostriches, serval cub (best spot of the trip according to our guide – I spotted him hiding in the bushes; tiny little thing – looked like a cheetah cub), hyenas, jackals, vultures, storks, eagles – I’m sure I’m missing some.  The most comedic animal we saw which made us laugh every time was the warthog, or pumbas, as all the guides called them.  They were hilarious.  Moses, our guide, said that they are really stupid animals and have a really short term memory in that they will run away from a predator into their burrow but forget why they ran so will come out a few minutes later.  Predators just wait outside their burrows until they come out again and get a nice easy meal out of them!  They also just look really funny with their whiskers and hairy manes.  When they run away, their tails go completely upright like antenna.  We saw loads of teeny tiny piglets – they were actually really cute and their legs move soooo fast to keep up with their parents when they start running.

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I have so much more I could write.  We splashed out on a balloon safari – incredible – and also spent some time in a Masai village meeting the tribe and learning all about their culture.  It was fantastic.  I might write another post about it at a later date.  For now I’ll leave you with a few more photos from the trip.  Enjoy.

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